The styling of the '71 Plymouth B-Bodies changed dramatically from their earlier predecessors. The new design was done in Dick Macadam's studio by John Herlitz. The '71 B-body two-door was an opportunity to develop a different philosophy toward shaping metal.
"The '71 Road Runner/GTX was a clean-sheet-of-paper approach to form versus lines," Herlitz stated. "The grille was an evolution of the '70 version, except the entire bumper and grille was used to present a visual image. The effect was inspired by the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom. Once the basic shape was derived, the park/turn signals and air intake assumed their logical positions. As the eye moves from the hood to the side view, note the almost seamless transition from horizontal to vertical surface. The body of the car is shaped to emphasize the beauty of the wheels. This was accomplished by flowing the fender shape from plain view-looking down from above-and side view to the wheel cutouts. The resulting wheel flares were tied to the bone-line (lower sill area) of the car and emphasized by the single lower character line."
With the new '71 body style laid out, the GTX enjoyed one last year as a separate model, yet sales plummeted, almost overnight. When the '72 model year Plymouth debuted, the GTX had ostensibly been put to rest, but not entirely. Rather than let the GTX dwindle entirely, the GTX became an option package on the Road Runner. This means all '72 through '74 models are technically Road Runner GTXs, wearing both Road Runner and GTX emblems. Only 672 examples were sold. Of that number, almost all of them had the 440 four-barrel rated at 280 horses for 1972, with a few examples built with the 440+6 before the option was dropped. Of the 672 cars sold, 453 were automatics, and 219 were four-speeds.
In late 1971, this particular Road Runner was delivered to Northland Chrysler Plymouth in Oak park, Michigan, apparently, as a promotional car. It seems a certain professional hockey player was going to be driving the car as a promotional aid for Chrysler. After that, it was to be sold to the first person with the cash-through the dealership, of course. That was way back in late 1971, but let's fast forward several years to a young man named David Bardeen of Powell, Ohio.
It's 1995, and David has just made connections with a guy in Spokane, Washington, who said he had a '72 Road Runner GTX with one problem: someone had put a sunroof in the car. The owner was fairly certain it was a dealer-installed sunroof. The condition was described as an older repaint, but it was a running and driving car. David wasn't too enthused, but the car's options enticed him to investigate further. the '72 was a four-speed, Dana 60-equipped car that was supposedly matching numbers. David contacted Galen Govier with the information he'd been given and soon got a call back.
This is the main draw of David's GTX-the factory installed sunroof with the full vinyl top
David's no stranger to rare Mopars, and he knew that a factory sunroof car should have the code M51 on its fender tag, which was the order code for a sunroof and vinyl top. The Road Runner GTX in Spokane didn't have this code on its original fender tag, leading one to assume the sunroof had been added at some point. However, an often forgotten fact about the '72 was that sunroof-optioned cars didn't have the M51 code designated on their fender tags. The only telltale sign on a '72's fender tag that a car left the factory with a sunroof is a G in its vehicle order number. Sure enough, the GTX's order number was G99073. Galen told David where to look under the wheelwells for the rain drain tubes used in factory sunroof cars. David was off to Spokane, and after a quick inspection, he tucked his head under the rear wheelwells, and, sure enough, the drain tubes were there. David had the car on his hauler and was headed east before the owner realized this was a 1 of 34 sunroof car with a very special past.